Originally published November 15, 2012 at 05:35p.m., updated November 16, 2012 at 01:37a.m.

Joel Embiid, Brannen Greene officially sign with KU basketball

Coach Bill Self fired up after landing Cameroon big man, Georgia wing


Joel Embiid, a slender, skilled, still-developing big man from Cameroon, who has only been playing basketball for a year and a half, and Brannen Greene, a smooth-shooting two-guard/small forward from Georgia, on Thursday signed letters-of-intent with Kansas University.

KU coach Bill Self gushed about the two upon receipt of their letters Thursday afternoon.

Of Embiid, a 7-foot, 220-pound senior from The Rock School in Gainesville, Fla., Self said: “He will develop and be one of the very best tall guys in college basketball in just a year or two.

“He, in my opinion, has a chance to be as good as any big guy we’ve recruited. He’s long, has touch. He is literally just getting started. His potential is untapped. I think he’s just now starting to figure it out and get confidence. The way we play, we can move him around and he made me a much better coach when he put his name on the dotted line.”

In his first weekend tournament at The Rock School, Embiid scored 19 points and grabbed nine rebounds in one game and had 12 points and 20 rebounds in another.

Embiid, 18, began playing at one of Luc Richard Mbah a Moute’s basketball camps in Cameroon when he was 16. Mbah a Moute, who plays for the Milwaukee Bucks, encouraged him to attend his alma mater, Montverde Academy (Fla.). Embiid transferred to The Rock School to play for coach Justin Harden for his senior season.

“He is long but what I like most about him is that he is tough,” Self said of Embiid. “I think he will adjust well to the physical play of the college game, especially when he gets into the weight room. His personality is contagious and he’s fun to be around. He is articulate and speaks three languages.”

Embiid is currently unranked, analysts indicating he’ll likely wind up a top 20-30 prospect in the final ratings. The Florida Elite AAU player chose KU over Florida and Texas. He also visited Marquette and Virginia.

“We’ve had success with big guys,” Self said. “Of the 26 NBA players we’ve coached, I think 15 are between 6-8 and 6-10. Joel (he’s listed as 7-foot by and 6-11 by ESPN) fits what we do and how we play. He has so much to learn and he’s just now getting it. He’s a different player today than he was in the summer and I guarantee he will be a different player in February than he is now. I just think he’s going to continue to get better and better at an accelerated rate.”

Greene, a 6-7, 200-pound senior from Tift County High School in Tifton, Ga., is ranked No. 25 nationally by

“Brannen is one of the most skilled 6-foot-7 guys in the country,” Self said. “He can shoot it. He can put it down. He’s got good vision. He’s a guy that should have a smooth transition from high school to college, in large part because he is a big guard. He’s not a guy that has been playing inside a lot.”

Last season Greene averaged 25.4 points and 14 rebounds for Mary Persons High School in Forsyth, Ga., where he was named the Macon Telegraph’s All Middle Georgia Player of the Year. Additionally, Greene carries a 4.0 grade point average in the classroom.

Greene, who verbally committed to KU in December 2011, chose KU over Louisville, Connecticut, Florida and Ohio State.

“He committed a long time ago to us and held true to his word,” Self said. “He’s been well coached by his father (Jeffrey) throughout his life and is an outstanding student. His dad was a great player at Pittsburg State and is one of the school’s all-time leading scorers.”

In August, Greene participated in the Under Armor Elite 24 all-star event in Venice Beach, Calif., which considers the best 24 high school players in the country. He was joined by KU signee Conner Frankamp at the all-star event.

“They (the Greene’s) have a beautiful family and he’s playing at a basketball program that is one of the premier programs in Georgia.” Self said. “We truly believe that Brannen’s best basketball is ahead of him.” 

KU on Wednesday announced the signing of Frankamp, 6-0 from Wichita North. The Jayhawks today are expected to announce the signing of Frank Mason, 5-11, 160, Massanutten Military Academy, Petersburg, Va.; and Wayne Selden, 6-5, 225, Tilton (N.H.) School.

Tyler Roberson, a 6-8 forward from Roselle (N.J.) Catholic will announce for either KU, Villanova or Syracuse on ESPN’s signing day special, to start at 6 p.m., today. CBS recruiting analyst Jeff Borzello predicts the choice will be Villanova.


texashawk10 9 years, 6 months ago

Next year's team is going to be ridiculously talented and ridiculously young. Naadir Tharpe is going to be the only upper classman in the rotation next year unless Wesley develops enough to be the 4th big in the rotation.

Jack Wilson 9 years, 6 months ago

"Center Joel Embiid and forward Brannen Greene have signed National Letters of Intent to play basketball at Kansas, coach Bill Self announced Thursday. The two join guard Conner Frankamp, who signed his NLI with KU Wednesday."

Ok, I'm not crazy ... Frank Mason signed yesterday too. Who said rankings don't matter? Where is the Mason-love? Where are Self's comments?

Or has Mason not yet sent in his LOI after signing yesterday? And if not, why not?

Kye Clark 9 years, 6 months ago

PlasticJHawk made an interesting comment about the Mason "signing" on yesterday's article:

"A player can only sign an LOI once. So he couldn't have "signed" with Towson and later "signed" with Kansas.

Unless he signed an LOI with Towson last year, and then decided to go to Prep school one year, and then signed a grant-in-aid form for KU.

Or if he signed an LOI for Towson and then never sent it to the school for processing."

I'm not sure what exactly happened with Mason, but it could be a situation where Self is still unable to discuss him because he did not sign a letter of intent. Anyone remember the Xavier recruitment? Was Self able to talk about him even without him having signed an actual LOI?

texashawk10 9 years, 6 months ago

Point guard Mason signed his letter Wednesday in a noon ceremony at his high school. KU did not receive the letter in time to announce his signing. Mason, who originally signed with Towson before reopening his recruiting, is averaging 17 points and nine assists a game for Massanutten (7-0). Mason chose KU over Providence, Rutgers, South Carolina, Virginia Tech and others.

That's the paragraph about Mason signing. It doesn't say he signed an LOI, just a letter so was that letter an LOI or was it a grant-in-aid agreement? Self making no comments about Mason today (a day after receiving Mason's letter) definitely indicates to me that Self signed Mason out of necessity because Mason was at best Self's 8th choice (go look at the other PG's ranked ahead of Mason KU offered on Rivals) so nobody should end up being surprised if Mason doesn't stick around for very long or if he never even becomes a rotation player for KU. If Mason does stick around and follows normal development trends, then Jeremy Case is whose career trajectory Mason will likely follow.

Marcia Parsons 9 years, 6 months ago

Why do we always assume the worst on here. It could be something as simple as a snafu in the paperwork, or somebody goofed and mailed it instead of sending it by FAX. Self CAN'T talk about him until he has the papers in hand, but all of a sudden on this board it's made to sound like he WON'T talk about him for all sorts of bad reasons. He'll announce him when he gets the proper paperwork, just like he did with all the other players.

Jack Wilson 9 years, 6 months ago

So.... that means he is not tied to KU. He could de-commit at anytime before enrolling then?

Here's and article that said he signed. But who knows if he actually signed a LOI.

Kye Clark 9 years, 6 months ago

Well, if he did not in fact sign a LOI and instead signed the grant-in-aid form, then yes. He could de-commit and sign elsewhere without permission from KU. I do remember when X signed many board rats were posting that they weren't going to feel secure that he was actually coming here until he stepped onto the court because he too was not bound by the LOI. Again, if this is truly the case with Mason.

This is not unheard of. A couple of years ago I think Brandon Knight signed the grant-in-aid stuff rather than a LOI, even though he had never signed a LOI elsewhere. There was speculation at the time that this was going to become a trend in college basketball. It is smart really. Protects high school athletes from getting tied to a school when we all know they are really signing up to play for a certain coach in his particular system. If the coach changes jobs or gets fired, they are still free to go elsewhere. In Knight's case it was at the height of the "Calipari leaving to take the Nets job" rumors, so he was doing it to protect himself (if my recollection of that is accurate). It never took off as some had thought, but again, it's not unheard of.

Kye Clark 9 years, 6 months ago

Thanks for the clarification. Guess we're back to HEM's original question - no Self love for Mason?

soapisurfriend 9 years, 6 months ago

If my memory serves, I remember Mason did in fact sign a LOI with TU.

Michael Bratisax 9 years, 6 months ago

We'll be loosing BMac, EJ, Withey, Travis, KY and maybe Rio and AW3. We have Tharpe, Ellis (?), Traylor & Wesley returning plus most likely redshirts Peters and Lucas plus a top 5 recruiting class.

I think the talent level improves some but loses experience. Not sure who gets the advantage.

Kye Clark 9 years, 6 months ago

"...he made me a much better coach when he put his name on the dotted line.”

Obviously every coach is going to sing the praises of their recruits, but this is pretty strong language from Self. I have gone from being mildly excited at the thought of him as a "project" (due to him being unranked), to pretty excited after reading the things the recruiting ranking guys had to say about him, to absolutely ecstatic after reading that comment from Self. And I'm not one to usually over-react to a player and his possible ceiling just because we sign guys.

LAJayhawk 9 years, 6 months ago

I thought the same thing. That is much stronger praise than he normally gives a new recruit. I've been very pumped about this kid for about the last month or so, but Self's words just multiplied it.

SaltLakeHawk 9 years, 6 months ago

I think Bill was just saying (in his signature tongue-in-cheek style) "the key to being a good coach is having good players"

Don't get me wrong, I'm excited too. But Bill's quote didn't strike me as anything extraordinary.

bradynsdad 9 years, 6 months ago

Thank you. I have been asking every media member and none knew.

Joe Baker 9 years, 6 months ago

Was wondering the same a bit concerned.

LAJayhawk 9 years, 6 months ago

I just realized I know basically nothing about Brannen Greene's game. I've seen plenty of video on Conner and even some on Embiid, but I've yet to watch anything on Brannen. Seems like the quietest top 25 recruit I've seen in a while.

Joe Baker 9 years, 6 months ago

Greene is a stone cold, dead eye, shooter. He plays completely in control. Dang with Ellis, Frankamp, and Greene, this team is not only good, but going to be smart. Selden will add some nasty and Embiid will keep the lane clean.
I can hear it now, Embiid outlet to...BMac, Greene, Frankamp, or Selden. I think BMac will want to play one more year with this class. They are going to be extra special.

Mel Clare 9 years, 6 months ago

The ranking guys said he will probably end up between #25 and #50 in the official rankings coming out in the spring/summer next year.........according to some of them his upside is tremendous! WOW! 7'0 Embid, 6'10 Lucas, 6'9 Peters, 6'8 Ellis, 6'7 Traylor!!!!!!!!!! Lots of bodies to be banging with! AND shooters in Greene, Frankamp, WhiteIII AND slasher types with McCLemore and Sleden..................WHEW!!!!!!!!!!! Gonna get exciting!

connhawk 9 years, 6 months ago

I dunno if you should get your hopes up about McLemore. He is absurdly athletic, and if he keeps improving he might jump to the NBA even this year. I think it's more likely that he stays two years, but he's got a decent chance at being a one-and-done..

timcampbell 9 years, 6 months ago

If kentucky can play young players and win. Then we should have no problem either. They need to develop mental toughness and everything else will just come with there talents and skills they are recruited for.

Alex Peekeaton 9 years, 6 months ago

Not having your starting point guard (Harrow) because of the flu was the biggest reason UK lost to Duke...the OAD's - Poythress and Noel played well and Goodwin was above average.

soapisurfriend 9 years, 6 months ago

Oh, that's funny because Harrow played 10 mins against MD. Sure he started, but lost his mins to Mays and a former walk-on Polson. But yeah not having Harrow was the reason they lost to Duke, got it.

Alex Peekeaton 9 years, 6 months ago

Harrow losing minutes to Mays and Polson??? You have no idea what you are talking about - Harrow was questionable for the Maryland game and tried to play with the flu...he had zero energy and sat most of the game. Calipari said afterwards he should have never played him. Losing minutes to Mays & Polson - now thats funny! Harrow is projected a late first round pick!

Joe Baker 9 years, 6 months ago

They are not coached to play in a system. How can they in less than a year? Cal has 8 mos with his OADs. No way they work within a system and learn what they need. He just tells them to go run a few organized plays and dribble drive. This is Cal's system, dribble drive and go to the NBA.
I think if you take uk and KU's players, KU preps players much better for the NBA systems. They learn NBA type skills, plays, and techniques.

Michael Sillman 9 years, 6 months ago

I don't worry about the Rivals rankings as much as some of the posters here. Jamari Traylor was #141 in his class and I think it is clear that he will be a contributor to this team. He is tough and hard nosed.

Frank Mason is actually ranked higher than Traylor at #134 so no reason he can't be a contributor next year and beyond if he is tough and hard nosed too like Self wants his players to be. We could have used a quick tough point guard in the first half of tonight's game.

diegohawk 9 years, 6 months ago

Spot on. If Self offers a kid, he thinks the kid could be a contributor. He is right more often then he is wrong. All of OUR recruits deserve some praise here. WE need to stand behind them and give them confidence to excel. If they don't cut it they move on or we move on. Reality is we need to give them all support though. THEY are OUR PLAYERS.

Frank is amazing with the ball. I am anxious to see his game translate to college. Strongest PG we've landed with the ball that I have seen since Sherron. I think he will force the issue into the paint.

Brannen is super talented. Fantastic shooter and has a little bit of old man game. I mean that in a good way. Finger rolls, smooth around the basket. Drop it on you from deep.

Joel has the look of a rebounding/shot blocking (ala healthy Greg Oden) matched with an ever developing offensive game put the ball on the floor and occasionally drop one on you (ala Olajuwon... He watches his tapes). If that happens look out. We won't have him long if this actually plays out.

Conner is a shorter version of Kirk Hinrich with more swag. Conner could end up being a stud (Bill is already calling him one). I like watching him play too. He and Frank seem to be pretty creative with the ball. Both have surprising athleticism. Conner has the more pure outside shot. Scary good when he is in a grove. Conner seems to be slightly more creative with the ball while Frank is stronger with it. Conner may score 9ppg as a Frosh.

Wayne is so exciting. Reminds me of Travis with much more swag and showmanship. Wayne will shed a few pounds at Kansas and play at 220. He will gain explosiveness and work on his shot and his handles. When he puts a consistent shot together with the dribble I may buy a bigger TV just to watch it. I love the way he attacks the rim. If you have to respect his shot there is no ceiling to how good he could be.

Ethan Berger 9 years, 6 months ago

Remember Traylor had a year before this at Kansas. Unless Mason flies up the board, it will be year 2 before he contributes.

clevelandjayhawker 9 years, 6 months ago

“We’ve had success with big guys,” Self said. “Of the 26 NBA players we’ve coached, I think 15 are between 6-8 and 6-10."

26 KU players have gone to the NBA, 26 Self Coached Players?? I thought there were only like 14 current Jayhawks in the NBA, what am I missing? Seems like Self in his 10 years here has put about 10-12 guys in the NBA but no where near 26.

soapisurfriend 9 years, 6 months ago

I'm sure he means his whole career. Guys like Deron Williams and Luther Head, for example.

soapisurfriend 9 years, 6 months ago

Oh there it is. Aaron Gordon has officially cut the Jayhawks.

Joe Baker 9 years, 6 months ago

We all knew this would ultimately happen: Washington = highly likely to commit, the order says it all and I hope it doesn't go like Jones' recruiting experience. zona uk

Katie Bieber 9 years, 6 months ago

If BMac continues to play like he did last night, we need to make a serious play for Andrew Wiggins.

Boouk 9 years, 6 months ago

That would be awesome, but unfortunately it won't happen. It's FSU or UK for Wiggins. Probably UK, even with the Harrison twins and James Young on board for next year.

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